The History Department at Eastern Illinois University strives for inclusive excellence in our teaching, research, and community engagement.
We particularly seek to inspire students to appreciate the depth, diversity, and complexity of human history. Through our course offerings in world and US history, students develop historical empathy and understanding of the varieties of human experience. By exploring the past within and outside the classroom, our students develop research and analytical skills with which to evaluate others’ interpretations of the past and to develop their own. Students learn to put their historical thinking, writing, and transferable skills to work in to work in classrooms, museums, libraries, and other settings from the courtroom to the corporate world.
Undergraduate students at Eastern can choose from courses taught by specialists in a wide variety of subjects from ancient Greece, to modern Iran, Korea, and South Africa, and from Atlantic mariners in the age of sail to World War II.
In Fall 2012, Dr. Debra Reid and eleven undergraduates created an award-winning exhibit, "Building a Brotherhood," focused on freemasonry in Central Illinois after World War II. They conducted research, acquired artifacts, and wrote the informational panels for the exhibit, which went on display at Booth Library in November. Not only did the exhibit receive an "Excellent" rating from the Special Projects Illinois State Historical Society, Dr. Reid notes the students "also impressed the masons."
Why do employers desperately want to hire applicants with history degrees? How does a history degree provide the real-world skills needed to succeed in a variety of careers? Nearly 80 history majors learned the answers to these and other questions at the 2013 EIU History Careers Day. Former EIU history majors spoke about how their history degrees provided them a leg up on the job market upon graduation and the real-world skills that have allowed them to build highly successful careers.
The History department offers over 60 courses, ranging from sweeping surveys of long periods to tightly focused seminars on specific topics and countries. Most courses offer students the opportunity to improve their writing skills. Click here for more information on this program.
To be admitted to the Departmental Honors Program, students must have at least a 3.50 CGPA and a major GPA of 3.50 on a 4.0 point scale after completing History 2010, 2020, 2500, and 2560, or their equivalent through transfer credit. Students must also have permission of the Dean of Honors College and the Departmental Honors Coordinator. Click here for more information on this program.
The option in History with International Studies requires History 2020G, 2560, 3555, 2500, 3600G, and 21 semester hours distributed between History, Economics, Political Science, and Geography, as well as proficiency in French, German, or Spanish. Click here for more information on this program.
A History with Teacher Licensure in Social Science degree allows students to pursue a degree in History while training and becoming licensed to teach high school social studies. Click here for more information on this program.
Students minoring in History must take at least 18 semester hours (HIS 2010G, HIS 2020G, HIS 2560, HIS 3555, and two upper-division history electives). Click here for more information on this program.
“In the History Department, our classes are small enough that faculty know every student by name. But beyond that, we also really get to know students’ interests and ambitions. Our job is not just to teach history. We are here to launch students onto the next stage of their lives. Having the time and support to do that is one of the best things about teaching at Eastern Illinois University."
“Teaching history at EIU allows me to introduce students to the range of historical thinking and to help the students see that beyond the facts and dates, history is about understanding the very nature of society and how it has transformed over time. Learning to think about society and how it has changed over time prepares students for the wide range of careers and opportunities they will enjoy throughout their lives."
"I believe in the power of the study of history to teach not just the what about the past, but the why, how, and the so-what. In our program for future high school social studies teachers, we work to equip our students with the ability to do all of these things -- to light their students on fire for history, to make profound connections between past and present, and to become better equipped for civic participation in the 21st century. I believe our graduates can change the world, one student at a time, in their classrooms and beyond."
"Being a full-time social studies teacher and athletic director at a high school is a tough job, especially as it's early in my career. As a History with Teacher Licensure major, the History Dept. and the College of Education provided me with an amazing foundation to succeed as an educator and as an administrator. I can’t stress how very pleased I am with the education I received at EIU, and I’m so very proud to be an alum of the history program. It makes me so happy when my current students choose to attend EIU and major in History as I know they are going to a fantastic place. The History Dept. and its faculty always goes above and beyond to make sure that their majors and alumni have great academic and professional success. The annual Careers Day, the job fairs, the lectures and workshops, the classes, the History & Social Science Teachers Conference… there’s always something! The faculty in History truly care for the students that come through the department, both while they are here and after they have gone on to do great things! I love EIU!"Derrick Zerrusen (BA 2016)
"Looking back at my time in the history department at EIU, I realize how thankful I am for the countless opportunities presented to me both during my undergraduate and graduate studies. Through my classes, undergraduate thesis, and history-oriented extracurricular activities, I've developed skills that I put to use in the everyday world post-graduation. The faculty take the time to get to know you on a personal level and will help you achieve your academic, personal, and professional goals. If you're a prospective student taking a campus tour and hear how EIU is and always will be home, it's true! I will always be grateful for choosing history at EIU as my second home!"Cayla Wagner (BA 2016 & MA 2017)
"My time in EIU’s History Department can honestly be called the most important four years of my life. I not only learned copious amount of new information, skills, and abilities, but I also made lifelong friends in the process. During my time as an undergrad and a graduate student, studying and working with my colleagues helped me succeed and I in turn helped them succeed. I believe this sense of community is what makes the History Department standout. But it does not end at just my fellow students – I consider the professors I studied under as great friends. They were not only the most helpful and kind of all the professors I studied under, but they are some of the most intelligent. Not only are they willing to help with assignments and papers, but they are willing to help us succeed in life after graduation. One of the best opportunities offered at EIU are the study abroad opportunities, some of which are led by history department professors. My time studying abroad and excavating a 12th century castle in Belgium was one of my fondest memories during my time at Eastern.”Nick Waller (BA 2016, MA 2018)
"EIU truly was my home away from home. My mother and aunt are alums, so I was already drawn to EIU, and looking back know I made the right choice in choosing to go there. My time in the History Department was beyond rewarding. The transferable skills I acquired from the faculty of the department allowed me to market myself after graduation, and it helped me get a job I love. I was presented with so many research and networking opportunities through the department - it rivals anything I could have possibly received at a larger, much more expensive school. Go, Big Blue!"Quentin Spannagel (BA 2016)
3721 - Coleman Hall